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About BrightChristmas

  • Birthday 04/09/1974

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  • Location
    Folsom, California, USA
  • Biography
    Grew up and went to school in Texas, moved to California in 1996, been here since.
  • Interests
    Photography, yard work, programming
  • Occupation
    Electrical Engineer
  • About my display
    30,000 lights, 100+ LOR channels

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  1. try AceHardwareSuperstore.com. I bought 20,000 lights from them last year. They have a mini style that is very similar to the WalMart versions. Although it looks like they raised their prices this year -- last year they were around 9 cents a bulb for their 100-count "traditional" mini's. Now they are over 12 cents (but maybe you can deal with them). I used them because I needed solid green (in addition to Warm White, red, and blue in the same style) and the green was always hard to come by. Palette shipping was reasonable (about $150 for all of the lights to ship across the country to California). I did have to get the warm whites in 50-count, because, for whatever reason, the 100-count WW had white wire (even though the website said green) and the colors had green wire. The 50-count had green wire though. If you don't need colored and only need warm white, you can probably find them cheaper.
  2. The blending is to keep the forward voltage of the lights to within the original design criteria on the string. Roughly, red, yellow, and orange would be about 2 volts and blue, green, and white about 4 volts. So if you had a full red string of 50 bulbs, it would be 100 volts. The total forward voltage can be above the original design without any danger -- the lights will be dimmer however as each bulb will not see the full current that the design was setup for. So, you could take out half the reds and replace them with half whites and be fine. If you started with a string of whites and replaced half of them with red, however, now you have a reduced total voltage across the string. Then all of the bulbs are getting more current than originally intended (sometimes quite a bit more). They will get brighter and last shorter. Having said all that, you can be off by 10 or 15 volts since the strings have to be designed somewhat for temperature and line voltage fluctuations which affect the total voltage and/or current seen on the string. You can also add resistors if you are ready to go that route. Assume a 20mA average current and follow Ohm's law to substitute a suitable voltage drop into the line to get it back to the original total voltage. However, make sure the resistor is also large enough to handle the power it will have to dissipate.
  3. Couple other options: 1) Have your property rezoned commercial 2) Start a collections to pay for the fine each year -- looks to be $5000 max. And publicize that you would love to donate the money to a local charity, but instead it is going to the city council anti-display zealots (to pay their stipend).
  4. Depends. I've seen 50-count red that are one string, but two strings in green, blue, and white from the same brand/type. Red has a lower voltage so that's probably how they got away with it. But I'd expect with 70, they are two circuits. Just make sure you are doing this to run-of-the-mill half-wave strings and not full-wave strings that have extra circuits that will not tolerate 220V.
  5. I think those neon power indicators in the extension cords should count as well
  6. Last year, we bought $14k in lights. Took four runs with the pickup truck filled -- both bed and crew cab full. It was a good year for both incandescent and LED purchases -- mostly wal-mart, but also some from LED. This year, we didn't even bother venturing out since our stores were void of lights as much as two weeks ago. I did venture into the closest walmart on the 26th around noon and people were scrambling to buy inflatables -- the only thing left on the shelves that lit up Oh well, still got stock from that purchase last year to keep me busy for awhile.
  7. I definitely need to bump up my resolution. With my grid, I'm at 16 x 33 pixels with 5" spacing and it doesn't look anywhere near as good as yours. I'd also be interested in which pixel style you went with and how you mounted them. I ended up with peg board that had larger holes drilled out for the pixels. Luckily we haven't had any significant rain and the shrinky-dink window covering has kept out the moisture that I'm sure would expand the compressed fiberboard if it got wet.
  8. I wouldn't get the LKP within 10' of your LED strings. With the wrong polarity, you will reverse-bias the LEDs which will lead to failure. It does more harm than good.
  9. 1/2 watt, 1 watt, and 2 watt are all very similar in size, but figure the power dissipated in one and most calculations will require 2 watts for margin. Your diagnosis of the problem is actually the reason why I will avoid sealed sets. If the LED itself malfunctions and fails open versus shorting, it is extremely difficult to troubleshoot the failed bulb. With sockets, you can still pull lights and run a low current from a power supply and series resistor to binary search down to the failed bulb. As for rusting lights, most of the leads are no longer steel (UL requirement), and I haven't had any of the newer sets rust. I put up about 350 60-count wal-mart strings this year from last year. I've had about three sets that failed due to LED failure that I was able to narrow down and fix by replacing the bulb. I saw no signs of rust on any of the leads. The rusting was a big problem with lights sets sold through 2009 before the UL requirement change went into effect.
  10. You can visibly see the difference. While DMX can do 44 frames per second, if the software is only sending 20 frames per second (the default in xlights), you'll see it. I'm not sure what frame rate LOR is sending its DMX commands since the source code is not publicly available.
  11. Alan, you are pretty much right. To get a fade out of an LOR controller over DMX, you have to send rapid DMX changes. DMX has a finite speed and frame rate, so it is expected you will see some graduated changes. The LOR controllers have intelligence built in so you only have to send a single fade command over the LOR protocol and then the controller does all the fade work on its own. What I was curious in discovering was whether it was due to the DMX frame rate limitation, the PC horsepower, the software, or some other limitation. My hunch is that it is between the DMX bandwidth and software (xlights). And I expect xlights due the use of the wxTimer class which will have a low resolution (slow) timer on the Windows platform. You can reprogram the timer interval on Windows to get higher resolution, but defeats the ability to use xlights on multiple platforms. At this point, I'm happy with the results and will stick with it as-is.
  12. Updated results. I have the Enttec Pro installed and running the LOR controllers (15 of them). Originally, when I had the LOR USB485B running in DMX mode, I was having controllers not come up and so I abandoned it that night. When I switched over to the Enttec Pro, I also installed a 120-ohm terminator on the last controller and they have been working flawlessly. So, I'm not sure if it was the USB485B or the lack of a terminator, but given that the combined cable run is probably around 200 feet, I expect the terminator was critical. As for the ratcheted fades using xlights, I'm still seeing this. I pulled the xlights source code and started modifying it to try to reduce the ratchet. I could make it worse by increasing the time between DMX updates, but trying to reduce it from the default 50ms didn't seem to help. DMX512 should go to about 20 to 30ms, but setting it to 25ms didn't seem to help much. This could be a Windows limitation since I expect xlights is using the Windows timer -- I may look into this more later, but I'm happy enough with the results and stability, that I'm going to leave it alone for this season. When I was tinkering around with xlights, I modified the output to adjust the blue channel down by 50% to all pixel nodes. My show uses warm white LEDs in the super strings and the RGB pixels are definitely a cool white. Setting the blue outputs to 50% produces a better white to mix with the warm whites. Jim, I'll send you an email, but this may be a nice feature to put into the E68x. Jason
  13. Depends on how your RGB flood lights are driven. LOR can drive DMX and DC (through their DC controller board). But it doesn't drive E1.31 which is DMX over ethernet -- used by Jim's awesome E680 and E681 controllers. You can use the free xlights player to play LOR sequences and have it remap LOR channels to practically any hardware, including E1.31. In my show, in addition to having two E681 controllers running 671 independent RGB nodes, I have 15 LOR controllers running about 190 channels -- had more channels until they were replaced with RGB nodes
  14. Sizing up to be the worse year for us light decorators looking to stock up on discounted lights. Even worse than the Christmas light shortage of 0-9. Poor gal was in Walmart Wednesday night and I heard her talking to a clerk trying to find clear lights. Here it was the 14th and no options to buy clear bulbs. She said Target was out and it was too late to go to Home Depot -- she needed them that night. It's an annoyance for us, but for the typical consumer, I'm sure they are annoyed that lights were on the shelf two weeks before Halloween but not there two weeks before Christmas. I hope the retailers get some flak and adjust accordingly next year. I just wish I would have known they were disappearing this quickly, because I would have done some stocking up at regular-price just for those "just-in-case" scenarios.
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